Life before Gieseking. So tell me about Marcelle Meyer?

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Gregg
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Life before Gieseking. So tell me about Marcelle Meyer?

Post by Gregg » Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:07 pm

Some thread, somewhere online lead me to Marcelle Meyer, and I listened to some works performed by this French pianist of the first 1/2 of the last century on you tube.

I'd like to solicit some opinions and to know about any other french pianists, particularly woman, whose performed Debussy in the era. Gieseking for me was THE sound of these works, so I am very interested in exploring what may be a french school of Debussy playing I have a lot of Debussy recordings post-Gieseking: Richter, Moravec, Michelangeli (Bachauer!) etc....

I have only become recently aware that there is a feeling that Gieseking's Debussy represents a softening (and pedaling) that is not what Debussy might have intended. I have also read the opposite (naturally) so who are the golden age Debussy interpreters?


Gregg

CharmNewton
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Re: Life before Gieseking. So tell me about Marcelle Meyer?

Post by CharmNewton » Fri Dec 31, 2010 8:57 pm

Gregg wrote:Some thread, somewhere online lead me to Marcelle Meyer, and I listened to some works performed by this French pianist of the first 1/2 of the last century on you tube.

I'd like to solicit some opinions and to know about any other french pianists, particularly woman, whose performed Debussy in the era. Gieseking for me was THE sound of these works, so I am very interested in exploring what may be a french school of Debussy playing I have a lot of Debussy recordings post-Gieseking: Richter, Moravec, Michelangeli (Bachauer!) etc....

I have only become recently aware that there is a feeling that Gieseking's Debussy represents a softening (and pedaling) that is not what Debussy might have intended. I have also read the opposite (naturally) so who are the golden age Debussy interpreters?


Gregg
Debussy's piano music was pretty widely available in the 78 RPM era, with major recordings by Cortot, Arrau, E. Robert Schmitz, Casadesus and Kathleen Long among others and along with Gieseking. Some prefer the early recordings of Gieseking made before WWII to his later ones for EMI, although I like the recordings he made for American Columbia in the early 1950s even if they do not sound very good. George Copeland is also highly regarded, but his recordings are not easy to find.

Not many women recorded Debussy during the 78 RPM era, but Jean Doyen recorded Set I of Images, while Marcelle Meyer and Marguerite Long also recorded several pieces (Meyer's red blooded recording of the Préludes was made in the LP era).

Another outstanding pianist who recorded the Préludes was Monique Haas, once for DG and again for Erato, now Warner Classics. These should be easy to find.

Hope this helps.

John

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Re: Life before Gieseking. So tell me about Marcelle Meyer?

Post by John F » Fri Dec 31, 2010 10:00 pm

The most important pianist in your category was Marguerite Long. She knew Fauré, Debussy, and Ravel personally and gave the premiere of Ravel's Concerto in G, which she recorded soon afterwards with the composer present.



I wouldn't call her a "golden-age Debussy interpreter," but failing persuasive recordings by the composer himself (the piano rolls are problematic), I suppose she's about as close as we can get to the source. Here she is playing the Arabesque #2, followed by Gieseking's early recording:


Gregg wrote:I have only become recently aware that there is a feeling that Gieseking's Debussy represents a softening (and pedaling) that is not what Debussy might have intended.
If we care about Debussy's intentions, they are embodied in his scores, and I've never heard any such objection to the way Gieseking played them. Of course his is not the only way the music can be played, and Long's version, rather brusque and even a bit awkward at times, contrasts with the much more controlled and polished Gieseking version. I suppose Long might be closer to Debussy's way of playing, if it's possible to know that - but who would prefer her to Gieseking? Certainly not me.

Then there's the Spaniard Ricardo Viñes, not a woman (obviously) but a favored interpreter of French impressionist music and also that of Falla. Debussy dedicated Images, Book 2 to him:



And if you want to hear Debussy himself, he and Mary Garden recorded some of the "Ariettes Oubliées," plus "Mes longs cheveux" from "Pelléas et Mélisande":



Incidentally, you can hear the complete opera broadcast from the Met tomorrow at noon EST.
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Re: Life before Gieseking. So tell me about Marcelle Meyer?

Post by gfweis » Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:13 am

John, thanks very much for the link to the movement from the Marguerite Long Ravel concerto. I did not know about this recording, and was just captivated by it.
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Re: Life before Gieseking. So tell me about Marcelle Meyer?

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Jan 01, 2011 8:35 pm

Marcelle Meyer was not that well known outside France, both Lance and I had copies of her Introuvables Boxes on French EMI, it was like discovering something fresh and new, but, very few others had those discs or had ever heard of her..they re-mastered all her discs into one 17 disc Box Set, get it now whilst it is still available, you will not regret the purchase...it's $38 including shipping...

http://www.amazon.com/Ses-Enregistremen ... 064&sr=1-1
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Re: Life before Gieseking. So tell me about Marcelle Meyer?

Post by gperkins151 » Sat Jan 01, 2011 10:22 pm

Chalkperson wrote:Marcelle Meyer was not that well known outside France, both Lance and I had copies of her Introuvables Boxes on French EMI, it was like discovering something fresh and new, but, very few others had those discs or had ever heard of her..they re-mastered all her discs into one 17 disc Box Set, get it now whilst it is still available, you will not regret the purchase...it's $38 including shipping...

http://www.amazon.com/Ses-Enregistremen ... 064&sr=1-1
Seconded! :)
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Re: Life before Gieseking. So tell me about Marcelle Meyer?

Post by Lance » Sat Jan 01, 2011 10:58 pm

I go along with this recommendation completely. The EMI 17-CD set of Marcelle Meyer is a must-have for any pianophile. While not known too far beyond France, it was Meyer's recordings—even from the days of 78s—that has given her a prominent place on the grandest pianistic list. I think Marcelle Meyer brings to Debussy a refinement and, especially, a “touch” for Debussy—and all the music she played—because she could so easily convey what she heard in her brain through her fingers in a very special (and controlled) manner. Meyer, being French, has a natural penchant for French music (and Scarlatti) much like Germaine Thyssens-Valentin had for the piano music of Gabriel Fauré. Once heard, it cannot be forgotten and begs for rehearing. While Meyer's recordings are issued on EMI (including the Ducretet-Thompson issues), the Thyssens-Valentin discs are available on the Testament label (originally also recorded by Ducretet-Thompson). This label had a keen sense of recording piano music, especially, on, often, Pleyel or Erard (French) pianos that capture a lovely singing but non-strident tone. Another great pianist, Ivan Moravec, captured Debussy splendidly (using a beautifully-voiced Baldwin piano). These recordings of Debussy appeared on Connoisseur Society LPs initially and then on Vox CDs ... very much worth investigating.
Chalkperson wrote:Marcelle Meyer was not that well known outside France, both Lance and I had copies of her Introuvables Boxes on French EMI, it was like discovering something fresh and new, but, very few others had those discs or had ever heard of her..they re-mastered all her discs into one 17 disc Box Set, get it now whilst it is still available, you will not regret the purchase...it's $38 including shipping...

http://www.amazon.com/Ses-Enregistremen ... 064&sr=1-1
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Re: Life before Gieseking. So tell me about Marcelle Meyer?

Post by fmnewyork » Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:40 am

The posts by John Francis and charmnewton pretty much cover the important Debussy interpreters that preceded Gieseking. I'd just like to point out that Marcel Meyer (1897-1958) is an almost exact contemporary of Gieseking (1895-1956) so she's not really "Life before Gieseking." charmnewton says Debussy's music was pretty widely available during the 78rpm era, and that's true for the electrical era of 78s, but acoustic 78rpm recordings are much more scarce. Paderewski (1912), Grainger (1914), Grunfeld (1914), Moiseiwitsch (1916), D'Albert, Cortot, Rachmaninoff, Pouishnoff, Gieseking, and Samaroff are some of the better known names that recorded Debussy early on, but most of them only recorded one or two very short works.

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